The Talk Therapist. Their Intricate Value as a Mental Health Resource
"I just need to talk to someone who will understand."
Erase the vision you have of the troubled and confused client lying on a couch in the Therapist's Office. Perhaps this still occurs in a big metropolis at the office of high-priced psychiatrist's whose patients are the extremely wealthy. However, for the hundreds of thousands of mental health patients in this country, unless one is also physically ill or weak, they sit in a small but comfortable room face to face with their therapist.
In the current mental health climate gone are the days of the Dr. Sigmund Freud student of psychiatry who sits patiently with clip board listening to his patient purge his/her inner demons for the allotted hour while nodding but remaining silent. Forget that..
Today, Drs. of Psychiatry have managed to manipulate themselves into the position of dispensers of psyche-medicine....the writers of prescriptions for controlled substances and other various medications used to treat all forms of mental illness and/or issues.
Psyche meds are not prescribed without a prior in-depth physical exam, complete with current prescription usage, allergies and some family history. In addition, when it comes to monitoring use, side effects and results of any medication, be assured that your Psychiatrist will be cautious and diligent.
The Dr. of Psychiatry is most often the medical professional who will determine the best program or treatment he/she feels will benefit you the most. Their suggestion more often than not is that a therapist may be the one to see. This particular member of the professional staff within a mental health facility or environment is the busiest person in the place.
Dealing with the "Emergency Crisis"
The special group of Mental Health Therapists/Counselors who make up the staff of a Crisis Intervention Center are highly skilled individuals. Make no mistake about it. They are the experts who know how to think on their feet and act quickly. This requires hours of special training and a very level head, not to mention acute alertness. A mental health emergency leaves little room if any for mistakes or oversights. Unlike the Hospital E.R or Trauma Center where physical injury is visible to a certain extent, mental health professionals must dig and probe to find the source of the "injury."
It is necessary for Talk Therapists to be expert in Behavior Analysis. Do not mistake this skill for what we know to be profiling. These are two very different branches of the same tree and need to be distinguished from one another. Professional Profilers play an intricate role in law enforcement, while working closely with Criminal Investigators.
In the case of a profiler, there is a crime or series of crimes, crime scene(s), victim(s) and as much background as can possibly be collected on the victim(s). Most vital is a fine-toothed-comb investigation of the crime scene(s). Armed with information and evidence, a Profiler pieces together the possible behavior and various traits of a likely suspect. In other words, a whole lot of expert speculation goes on. Amazingly enough, Profilers are much more often than not, keenly accurate.
In Behavior Analysis, you are face to face with the subject, yet still must piece together what can be heard, witnessed and expected. The Therapist should be capable of looking at a big picture, while noting the group of small snap shots within the mind of an individual, who for all intent and purpose appears to be, momentarily not in control of their thoughts and actions. Thus, the crisis.
Working the front lines of a Mental Health Facility in cases of emergency crisis, behavior analysis performed by a well-trained therapist can make the difference between control and chaos. Unless someone has accompanied the patient, all pertinent information must be gently, but accurately gleaned from your patient. This requires super-talent.
The phrase, "talking someone down," is precisely that. Literally, the professional is faced with the challenge of gaining the attention and trust of an individual in mental/emotional turmoil.
Therapy: A short simple explanation.
Is this what is meant by, "Talk Therapist?"
The answer to this is, "only partially." Talk Therapy is meant to imply the opportunity for the patient to do the talking. This being said, I would once again like to impress upon you that good therapists of today's mental health protocol, do not simply sit silently by, adding nothing to the session. This concept was abandoned decades ago and replaced with active involvement between client and counselor.
In recent years, although Mental Health has gained a bit more attention and respect, there are miles yet to go. The reality simply is that a broken bone is met with societal acceptance and understanding. Broken brains are quite a different story. There exists still, a pervasive fear and difficulty of the average lay person to search for better insight and understanding of mental illness.
However unfortunate this reality is, mental health professionals must continue without obstacle and hesitation to heal the sick. Patients as well, must be informed of the various avenues of help and support available to them and feel confident to seek this out. Only when the myths have been erased and false shame vanishes entirely, will great strides be made in the vital field of Mental Health.
I would ask that my readers avail themselves to the vast collection of sound and accurate information, accessible to all of us. Further, to anyone who suspects that they may be in need of clinical therapy/counseling, please do not hesitate to take that first step and/or make that first call. Your very life, happiness and health may be at stake.
Don't settle for less than you need
There's an important issue that warrants a few words. It is not uncommon to find yourself unable to connect or feel comfortable with a particular therapist. The last thing you need, is to become fretful over this or be overly concerned with how you might solve this problem.
Somehow, you need to muster up the courage and have a candid chat with him or her, in terms of this very fact. It would be counterproductive for you to remain with a therapist you are uncomfortable with or simply feel unsure of. If necessary, you can suggest to him/her that you are feeling as though you might simply be better able to relate to a woman or to a man...depending on which they are. Perhaps you can mention that you feel there is too much of an age gap between the two of you, which makes you feel that you cannot get your points across well enough. There is not, at least there should not be, a therapist in practice today, who would take the least offense to this. In fact, he/she will be understanding and do their best to help you find a solution and/or a different therapist. Believe me, no therapist wants to take up their time,or yours, only to ultimately discover they were unable to help you. The sooner you take care of this concern, the better, for both of you.
Keep in mind this happens often and solutions are readily offered. You need to be satisfied with him or her and be certain you are able to be as open and honest as possible. Just as with any person you choose to speak with about a personal issue, personalities and trust are necessary ingredients. Having this frank conversation with him/her is suggested ,rather than an abrupt cessation of your visits, with no explanation whatsoever.
Also, understand that your time and discussions with your therapist get better, easier and more complex, with each subsequent visit. Do not be discouraged should you feel that a session went poorly, on your part. These are professionals you are interacting with and believe me, they do not judge you, at any point, for any reason. Say and do what you feel you need to convey and express. Should you burst into sobs, let it happen with no regrets. You are reacting in your true nature. This is a good thing. It can only help your therapist to know you as best as possible, which in turn is beneficial to your recovery.
I will leave you with one more suggestion. At some point, after each session, when the opportunity presents itself, journal your thoughts and comments regarding your visit and any questions you might want to pose at your next visit. Being able to go over your own notes from time to time, will give you more insight into yourself and your progress. This is a great confidence builder.